Last Year’s Loves
A “mini-book reviews” guest-post by Cristina White.
I read some good and very good books last year, but only found three books that I truly loved. You know the kind of book I mean — one that you hate to put down once you start, a book you savor, that you have to keep reading because you want to know how it ends, all the while wishing it wouldn’t end. Here, for me, are last year’s loves, in the order that I found them:
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
This is a brilliantly written and often very funny account of “one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia.” It begins with Gilbert in the midst of a near suicidal depression, and traces her gradual rebound through connecting with small wants, like wanting to take a yoga class and wanting to learn Italian. Fulfilling those “baby-step wants” leads to her pursuit of pleasure in Italy, prayer in India, and love in Bali. I liked it so much that I very nearly started it all over again immediately after finishing it. I didn’t do that — but it’s still by the bedside whenever I want to dip into fabulous writing, available on any random page.
Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim
A Visual Novel Written by Tom Corwin, Illustrated by Craig Frazier
It’s difficult to make this book last for any length of time, because it’s only 101 pages, and half of those are illustrations. The beautiful pen and ink drawings depict the travels of Mr. Fooster, who sets out on his journey with no particular destination in mind and no suitcase or backpack. All he has with him is an old wrinkled letter, his compass, and a bottle of bubble soap. Along the way he meets animal, insect, and man, and he gets into some very dicey situations. How Mr. Fooster copes with those situations surprised and delighted me right through the end. It continually bends the left brain out of shape and offers up refreshment for the right brain. Lovely.
Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg
You may already know Elizabeth Berg. I just discovered her with this novel about Lainey, a happily married woman with two children. One winter day her husband walks past a building, and a huge chunk of ice falls off the roof and hits him in the head. The blow sends him into a coma, and the whole of the story is about how Lainey holds on to her life with her sleeping husband, talking to him about everyday things and bringing him ordinary objects, all in the hope that a texture, a fragrance, a word, will wake him up. The story is also about her friendship with Alice, her next door neighbor, and the presence of a woman who once occupied Lainey’s house decades ago — a woman who may be a hallucination, or a ghost, but is vividly real to Lainey and the reader. Who could predict such suspense when one of the main characters is asleep? It is beautifully and richly written, and I went out and bought three other novels by Berg upon finishing Range of Motion.